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Theory of Games and Economic Behavior [Paperback]

John von Neumann , Oskar Morgenstern
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1953 0471911852 978-0471911852 3rd
This is the classic work upon which modern-day game theory is based. What began more than sixty years ago as a modest proposal that a mathematician and an economist write a short paper together blossomed, in 1944, when Princeton University Press published Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. In it, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern conceived a groundbreaking mathematical theory of economic and social organization, based on a theory of games of strategy. Not only would this revolutionize economics, but the entirely new field of scientific inquiry it yielded--game theory--has since been widely used to analyze a host of real-world phenomena from arms races to optimal policy choices of presidential candidates, from vaccination policy to major league baseball salary negotiations. And it is today established throughout both the social sciences and a wide range of other sciences.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Editorial Reviews


Posterity may regard this book as one of the major scientific achievements of the first half of the twentieth century. This will undoubtedly be the case if the authors have succeeded in establishing a new exact science--the science of economics. The foundation which they have laid is extremely promising. (The Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society)

One cannot but admire the audacity of vision, the perseverance in details, and the depth of thought displayed in almost every page of the book. . . . The appearance of a book of [this] calibre . . . is indeed a rare event. (The American Economic Review)

The main achievement of the book lies, more than in its concrete results, in its having introduced into economics the tools of modern logic and in using them with an astounding power of generalization. (The Journal of Political Economy) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John von Neumann (1903-1957) was one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century and a pioneering figure in computer science. A native of Hungary who held professorships in Germany, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in 1933. Later he worked on the Manhattan Project, helped develop the IAS computer, and was a consultant to IBM. An important influence on many fields of mathematics, he is the author of "Functional Operators, Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics", and "Continuous Geometry" (all Princeton). Oskar Morgenstern (1902-1977) taught at the University of Vienna and directed the Austrian Institute of Business Cycle Research before settling in the United States in 1938. There he joined the faculty of Princeton University, eventually becoming a professor and from 1948 directing its econometric research program. He advised the United States government on a wide variety of subjects. Though most famous for the book he co-authored with von Neumann, Morgenstern was also widely known for his skepticism about economic measurement, as reflected in one of his many other books, "On the Accuracy of Economic Observations" (Princeton). Harold Kuhn is Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Economics at Princeton University. Ariel Rubinstein is Professor of Economics at Tel Aviv University and at New York University. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 642 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc; 3rd edition (June 1953)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471911852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471911852
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,784,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
125 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark work but heavy going August 23, 2000
By Mark
I'm not even sure I'm qualified to pass judgement on this book, but what I understand, I give 5 stars without hesitation. The authors discuss almost every class of game (2-person, 3-person, zero-sum, non-zero-sum, etc.) and even a very simplified version of poker.

You basically have to be a mathematician to get full value from this book. This book is absolutely full of equations and complex proofs. For a beginner with little math, I'd recommend Game Theory by Morton Davis, or for someone with some university math I'd recommend Games and Decisions by Luce and Raiffa. However, if your math is good, you might as well go straight to this book, which started the whole field of game theory.
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100 of 109 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Obvious Classic But . . . October 22, 2002
By K. Yost
Let me start out by acknowledging that this is THE BOOK that started Game Theory as it exists today. While Bayesian statistics are an obvious precursor, everyone agrees that von Neumann's and Morgenstern's work was ground breaking.
That said, this is not the best written Game Theory text out there. Like all seminal works, it suffers from the basic fact that we've learned a lot of new things since the time it was written. Many people have gone on to build and expand on the insights contained in this book, especially in the area of bargaining and cooperative game theory.
This is a very impressive book to keep on your shelf, and the discussion of poker and the role of bluffing is very interesting, but, owing largely to the 60+ years that have passed since its initial publication, it's not the best reference work or study material available.
Another word of warning: The review below is correct that the level of math that you must understand to fully appreciate this book is quite substantial. This book is more for the mathematically sophisticated who want to develop an appreciation for the origins of game theory.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed examination of game theory February 2, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book when I was a teenager, in the early 1960s. I found that it explained a lot of things about game theory, but found it went into detail in some places, and I turned to Dresher's Theory of Games of Strategy and Luce and Raiffa's Games and Decisions for simpler explanations. I ordered the book now to look at what I studied so long ago. It is indeed highly detailed - the detail surprised me in some cases. And I found that the theory it presents can't always be applied to the real world. But I liked the book so well that I ordered it in 2013, or more than 50 years later.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read July 18, 2013
By jacob
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is awesome. For someone who wants to take game theory seriously they should definitely read this book. I will more than likely reference in every game theory paper I will write
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thorough, Maybe Too Thorough January 31, 2008
By Steki
I am in the middle of this book now. I chose it because it was the first in this field. It presents so much information, it can overwhelming. Perhaps I should have chosen a simpler book for my first. Oh well, I will plod along. My limited math skills meas I miss out on a lot of the book, but the stuff in between the math is great and is helping me to better understand the ideas.
I'm giving it four stars. It is jam-packed with great research and the reader can learn quite a bit, but the heavy math emphasis makes it difficult for many to consume.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Say what? June 22, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Von Neumann. This theory sistematizes decision making and taking risk. As usual easier to read than Von Neumann "explainers". Brilliant
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars tf
A fundamental book in the application of the theory of games in the social sciences, it compares the application of games to social behavior with similar progress in the physical... Read more
Published on May 21, 2012 by doks
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Johnny von Neumann......and Game Theory.....
Dear Readers

2 Feb 2013

Johnny forgot about the Entropy in physical systems.

At least, he never "put it in" the analysis. Read more
Published on August 11, 2011 by Southern Jameson West
4.0 out of 5 stars Like reading murky Elizabethan prose for this generation of game...
Like reading murky Elizabethan prose for this generation of game theorists.

Theory of Games and Economic Behavior (TGEB) is the Ur-text of game theory, and Morgenstern... Read more
Published on April 20, 2009 by Bachelier
5.0 out of 5 stars very fast shipping, great transaction
I was very happy with book I received. Book was as described and shipped very fast. Thank You!
Published on March 30, 2009 by Kimberly Patton
4.0 out of 5 stars revolutionary
This book is a must for high level math or econ. majors. To truly understand all the math you need advanced calculus, but the book is still worth while if you only have a basic... Read more
Published on May 8, 2008 by Kyle Frazer
4.0 out of 5 stars Please, the genius speak!
This book is very important for the quality of argument by two big personalities. The lecture is nice for the richness of particulars about several aspects of the theory. Read more
Published on February 29, 2008 by Edoardo Angeloni
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